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Alternative forms




From pre- (before) +‎ history, first attested in the Foreign Quarterly Review in 1836,[1] after the model of prehistoric, from French préhistorique.



prehistory (countable and uncountable, plural prehistories)

  1. The time before written records in any area of the world; the events and conditions of those times.
    Synonym: prehistoric age
  2. The study of those times.
  3. (humorous, hyperbolic) Any past time (even recent) treated as such a distant, unknowable era.
    • 1984, Shiva Naipaul, Beyond the Dragon's Mouth, page 25:
      I was a town boy through and through. The country belonged to a vague pre-history.
  4. (often as pre-history) The history leading up to some event, condition, etc.
    • 1931 July 25, Time & Tide, page 893:
      Psychologists... are mostly bad historians, inventing—as Freud has done—their pre-history to suit their theories.






  1. ^ Eddy, Matthew Daniel (2011) “The Prehistoric Mind as a Historical Artefact”, in Notes and Records of the Royal Society[1], volume 65, →DOI, pages 1–8